When I think of casserole I envision a baking dish, some cheese, maybe some bread crumbs all baked together. But, FIlipino names for things are not necessarily what you would think they are. I learned this as a child. Many things I thought were normal growing up in my Filipino household were not the norm in other houses.
For example, when I went to eat dinner at a friend’s house, I was absolutely baffled that 1) they didn’t eat rice with their meal and 2) they only ate with a fork. We eat with forks and spoons–the better to eat the rice with. But again, these are just things you figure out as you get older; things aren’t always what you think they are. Case in point: our Filipino Chicken Casserole is actually more like a chicken tomato soup.
Unlike the other chicken soups I’ve made, this one is a tomato base. Now, I have a confession to make. I do not like tomatoes. I cannot stand the texture! And as you know, I am huge on food textures. The wrong texture in a meal can absolutely ruin a meal for me. So, tomatoes–they have a very rubbery texture with a slimy middle. YUCK! However, I do not hate the taste of tomatoes. I will eat tomato soup, tomato sauce, ketchup, salsa, and even roasted and sun-dried tomatoes. I just can’t have tomatoes in chunks. Remove the texture, and I’m good to go. Yes, this recipe has a lot of tomatoes. This recipe happens to also be one of my favorite Filipino recipes to make.
Anyway, let’s get cooking. To begin with we fry the potatoes. Frying the potatoes gives it some great texture, cooks quicker than boiling it, and adds the first layer of taste for the soup. Frying the potatoes first also helps release the flavors in the aromatics. Then start sauteing the Filipino foundation (i.e., garlic and onions). Add the tomatoes–I used plum tomatoes–and then the chicken. Once the chicken is slightly browned, I add the broth.
As is true with the other chicken soups, we use rice water. And since this is a tomato-based soup, we add a small can of tomato sauce. But, Alyssa! We already added tomatoes! Do you really need tomato sauce too?! Yes! You do! The fresh tomatoes are part of the aromatics, they add a foundation of tomato in the flavoring. But that’s not enough to make an actual tomato soup. Without the can of tomato sauce you’re basically making a soup with a hint of tomato. You really want that flavor to come through and be the star, not water it down. Bring to a boil and let it simmer away.
Last but most certainly not least, add the green beans toward the end for color and vegetables. Green beans cook very quickly so they only really need to be added in the last 10 minutes or so. Add some extra patis/fish sauce for flavor and to pull it all together.
I’ll be honest, I don’t really cook this dish as much as I want to. My parents like it but they don’t love it as much as other things. I usually only make it when I want a night of easy cooking since it’s so quick to put together. Soups are great for that–they take very little time and effort. But I wish I made it more. I love the tangy sweetness that the tomatoes bring to the dish with the hearty chicken and potatoes. This chicken casserole is an amazingly easy one-pot chicken tomato soup. I love it. And I don’t even like tomatoes!
What is your easy go-to chicken dish?
Filipino Chicken Soup
- 1-2 lbs chicken wings
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 plum tomatoes chopped
- 2 cups rice water
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 20 baby red potatoes quartered
- 25 pieces green beans ends cut off
In a large pan, lightly fry the potatoes until the edges are seared. Remove to a plate.
Saute the garlic and onions until soft and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking until they are wilted, about 4-5 minutes.
Add the chicken and mix. Lightly fry the outside of the chicken to give it some more texture.
Pour in the rice water and tomato sauce. Mix together. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes. In the last 10 minutes add the potatoes back, and in the last 6-8 minutes, add the green beans. Finish with the patis and serve with rice!